Posts Tagged parachuting

Skydiver Dangles Dangerously After Jumpsuit Catches On Plane

After my buddy Joe jumped from a plane at 10,000 feet, he said that the hardest part was getting in position to jump by moving from the cramped cockpit and over the struts. Here is a story about how precarious it can be:

A skydiver in Peru is lucky to be alive after he got caught on the plane while trying to jump out.

Fernando Gava’s jumpsuit got stuck to the plane’s step according to Maurice Mathey, a friend who recorded the frightening footage.

Gava dangled precariously upside down for about 30 minutes while the plane circled at an altitude of about 10,000 feet.

Finally, Gava used a knife to cut himself loose.

Once he was free of the plane, he released his parachute without incident. His only injury was a cut to his hand from the knife.

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Joe Adler Parachutes 10,000 Feet To Celebrate Birthday

is he praying before jumping?

is he praying before jumping?

Although my friend Joe Adler still works energetically seven days a week, he is really not very athletic. In fact, his physical activities only include walking up and down one flight of stairs and strolling infrequently around a lake wearing Heavy Hands. But for his 75th birthday, he decided to set a record and wrote the following:

I don’t usually acknowledge birthdays — but yesterday I decided to commemorate the day by jumping from a perfectly good plane at 10,000 feet — with the added handicap of an almost perfect stranger strapped to my back!

flying like a bird

flying like a bird

After filling out the paperwork, they advised me that anything could happen — including “injury or death” — with no legal recourse on my part.
I was then asked to view a video where the developer of the Tandem system vowed that no system, no equipment, no instructor is perfect.

Here’s are some stills from my Leap of Faith — not easy for an avowed Atheist!
And here is the video .

fearless and relaxed like a pro

fearless and relaxed like a pro

When I was in the army, I jumped five times to earn my wings. But these were combat style from just 1200 feet and attached to a clothesline. My brother made 66 jumps between military and civilian. But his highest freefall was a “mere” 6500 feet. And that is why in our little group, Joe is the recordholder and champion!

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How To Celebrate Your Birthday

Yesterday was my 74th birthday. I sat around the house enjoying family and friends. It snowed, I ate poached salmon and wine and carrot cake. Very sweet. Buttttttttt…..

For her 100th birthday, Georgina Harwood jumped out of a plane! It was her third (tandem) jump since she was 92! Now granted that I jumped out of planes five times in the army, when I was 22. So I could say, “Been there, done that.” But I won’t. Georgina earns a “tip of the hat, m’lady…”

And that wasn’t all. Two weeks later, this South African great-grandmother dove in a cage to see sharks up close. She said it was “the experience of a lifetime. Exhilarating.”

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President Bush Parachutes At 90 In Spite Of Parkinson’s Disease

George Bush the elder celebrated his 90th birthday on June 12th by parachuting in tandem out of a helicopter at 6000 feet. He had done it for his 85th, 80th and 75th birthdays as well. It was his eighth jump. Just watch the first two videos in the series above.

What’s most impressive to me is that Bush has Parkinson’s disease and no longer has the use of his legs and very little control of his arms. So he lands and is placed back in his wheelchair! Talk about inspirational.

According to Guinness World Records spokeswoman Sara Wilcox, the oldest tandem parachute jumper was by 100-year-old Bjarne Mæland from Norway, who made a 10,500-foot jump in 1999.

The oldest confirmed solo jumper was Milburn Hart, 96, who made his jump in 2005.

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Top 10 Biggest And Best Jumps Ever

Afraid to jump into a swimming pool off of a “high” diving board of 10 feet? Then you will have a real rush watching these fearless humans perform jumps you can’t imagine sane humans would ever consider executing.

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Alps Hiker Jumps Off Cliff

paraglider paragliding


I rode a gondola last week in Austria to 6600 feet to ponder the magnificent view of the Alps and take some summer snaps. As I started walking back to the gondola station, I passed a serious hiker carrying an enormous black, cylindrical backpack, maybe four feet tall and 20 inches in diameter. He totally ignored me on the three-foot wide trail—I thought he was a bit unfriendly, as we were the only two people on the ridge. But I was awed that he was going to camp out for weeks, I thought, and had to plan so carefully, be sure to take enough food, water, countless other supplies along with the tent that was obviously crammed into his bag. I have enough trouble remembering to take a cell phone or pen when I go out for a walk.

When I arrived at the gondola, the clock showed that the next descent wasn’t for 15 minutes, so I decided to go back near the ridge and throw a snowball in July while standing in the white patch of snow just near the cliff. Imagine my surprise to see this “hiker” in black maneuvering a large curved wing made of parachute-like material that was attached to his harness somehow and also by maybe 20 lines or risers half going to each hand for controlling the wing.

The wind was somewhat brisk, and I took three or four videos of him trying to organize his wing and keep the lines untangled. But one end of the wing kept crashing to the ground. Finally he looked away from the edge, toward the wing, inflated the fabric, then reversed his direction by 180 degrees so his back was to the wing, and he ran off the cliff. This is called a reverse launch, and the sport is called paragliding. Breathtaking.

I have to admit there is a difference between watching some life-threatening, death-defying activity on TV or in photos and seeing it right up close. Even for me, after parachuting in the army. I am still wondering precisely how you learn the skill, because there must be a way to practice parts of it in advance. And what if the wind is too strong and drags you off the mountain in the opposite direction from where you intend to go?

flying in the Alps


Anyway, this guy made it, and it was very exciting to watch. He fell off the cliff and out of site until a thermal (patch of hot rising air) picked him right up, and he was high above me. You could hear a slight whistling as he passed close by…right with the birds who were soaring effortlessly as well.

Although thermals are perfect in this sport, I was reminded of my first week at Fort Benning Georgia in 1963, where I went to jump school. In combat jumps, the planes are stacked, so that those in front fly lower than the ones behind, presuming that by the time the second or third wave of jumpers is out of their planes, the earlier jumpers are way down toward—or on—the ground in the designated drop zone. Unfortunately when I arrived, we heard how the first jumpers met thermals and were taken up, rather than down, and were shredded and killed by the propellers of the following waves of planes. Very gruesome, and just for training, not even combat.

After people heard that I had jumped, they often said how brave I was. But it was relatively safe…the stats proved that fewer people were injured or died from parachuting (percentage-wise or when considering miles traveled) than from driving cars (see details below). Read the rest of this entry »

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How Risk-Averse Are You In Life And In Sports?

Are you willing to take chances? I think I am. I’ve made investments in start-up companies, begun new books or magazines when I was a publisher, learned to ride a horse English-style at 50 and jump bareback at 52. I began serious tennis lessons at 65, and I’ve taken up squash for the first time when I was 68. But on the tennis court, I often play the safer shot and am gentler with my follow through for fear of hitting the ball too long. Then my opponent often smashes it back for a winner. No good. I must have more courage.

When it comes to food, I know people who order the same meals each time in restaurants. They admit that they are worried about not liking some unknown choice and are then stuck eating something they think tastes horrible. Or not eating it and wasting the money. And not reordering, and then going hungry. Or they don’t want to think about another decision, so they order what is familiar. A seven-day-a-week meat-eating friend told me proudly that he recently ordered trout for the first time and is now eating fish twice a week. He is in his mid-50’s.

These are little steps, but maybe they reveal bigger truths about who we are and how we play at sports and the rest of our lives. Yesterday I gambled and ordered the special appetizer the waitress had described, but not told me the price. As I said to the owner at the end of the meal, all the appetizers on the menu were around $10-13. Imagine my shock when the special one was $19! He said the waitress had made a mistake with the bill and insisted that the price should have been $17. But it certainly makes me leery about taking a chance again and ordering food blindly in his place. That price equaled the cost of some of the entrees. And I was unwilling to ask how much it cost before I ordered it. Too awkward for me.

Yesterday I also had another confront about my appearance. I have been playing many more hours of tennis and squash the past few months since my arm injury kept me from exercises in the gym. My upper-body muscles are gone or soft. I may be as fit as I was in the army at 21, when I ran five miles a day and jumped out of airplanes. But I look older. Of course I am older. So what’s my problem?

Well part of my goal in building muscle—and especially abs is to look “better”—and also younger. As I wrote in a previous post, millions of people reach for those goals by coloring their hair and undertaking plastic surgery. Very common and socially acceptable, although more for women than men.

graybeard Ira—2/1/10

graybeard Ira—2/1/10


But what the hell, you only live once. So tired of how gray my beard and remaining head hair had become, I went back to the hair salon for a cut and color. I was willing to take THAT chance, if not a riskier tennis swing or skiing down a steeper, black diamond trail.

What happened yesterday was a very funny development: the stylist tried a new color on my beard, and I ENDED UP LOOKING TOO YOUNG! This was a minor disaster, and she wasn’t sure how I was taking it and what to do about it. It was hilarious. My beard went from white to almost black. A clearly different color than the hair on my head. I was two-toned, like a tiger…well not that different. But anyone could tell.

the beard that still looks too young—2/12/10

the beard that still looks too young—2/12/10


This was a problem. I considered shaving it off on the spot. A friend at tennis had advised me to do that if I wanted to drop five or more years of appearance. I was almost at that point. I had taken the chance of a newer beard color, because the old one faded back to white weeks before my head hair. Now I was stuck. Of course it is only hair, it will fade in time, grow out, I am not a celebrity or going to job interviews. I am not dying. I will get through this. I will survive.

An hour later, after I learned more of what most women go through, after consultation with the owner of the salon, I had another paint brushing of bleach and coloring agent, and it didn’t look so bad. But I clearly looked more like when I was 20 years younger. And I have a picture to prove it.

my beard in 1980

my beard in 1980

The biggest problem is that I no longer recognize myself in the mirror. And I am sure other people are going to do triple takes when they see me. I will have to insist that, “I am not Chuck Norris.”

Now if I could only apply this gutsiness to my athletic pursuits, I’d be terrific. So many sports are mental games more than physical challenges. I have to take more risk…

…Ha Ha Ha Ha. I told you. Bumped into someone I work with for years—but hadn’t seen in three DAYS— and after her startled look at me, she asked if I was growing a beard! I had to tell her I have had the same beard for over 30 years, but that it was just darker than the last time we met.

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